₹100-cr Mundhwa jackwell project in Pune fails to deliver adequate treated water to farmers
Pune: Even after four years, the ₹100-crore Mundhwa jackwell has been unable to deliver adequate treated sewage water for agriculture purpose downstream. The jackwell, inaugurated by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 2015, is yet to release 550 million litres per day (MLD) water for agriculture purposes.
The ambitious sewage treatment project was developed at Mundhwa by PMC to treat sewage water generated in the city and discharge it for irrigation to nearby villages up to Daund. The plan’s purpose was to use treated water for agriculture needs and save water for drinking purposes.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had inaugurated the project on October 1, 2015 which includes a jackwell, a pumping station and a recycling plant. The treated water is released from the plant at Sadesatra Nali area on Pune-Solapur Road for non-drinking and agricultural purpose.
The official data released from irrigation department states that sewage water between 21 to 40 MLD per day is released against the mandatory requirement of 550 MLD as per the stated purpose of the project. Experts claim that as a result the remaining demand of water for Pune was fulfilled from dams which has led to a water cut in the city despite heavy rains during the monsoon.
Sajak Nagarik Manch president Vivek Velankar who sought information of the project under RTI has demanded strict action against the irrigation department officials alleging failure on their part to lift water at Mundhwa jackwell project. Velankar in his petition to the guardian minister Ajit Pawar stated that PMC has spent ₹100 crore for the sewage water treatment project of Mundhwa jackwell and it was proposed that 550 MLD of wastewater would be released downstream till Daund via baby canal for irrigating agricultural lands. It is the only project of its kind and the project is the complete responsibility of water supply and irrigation department.
However, the department is not releasing more than 10-15 per cent water during the past two months, according to the official records. The PMC water supply department claimed that it will supply its citizens 100 MLD additional water, but not providing the mandatory water to farmers is a cause of concern. Tomorrow, the irrigation department officials will oppose release of water for farming from dams saying that the additional water has to be released for Pune during the canal committee meeting chaired by the minister of the department, he stated.
“It seems that the irrigation department has no plans for release of either additional water for Pune city or ensure that the treated sewage water is flown forward via canals for irrigation purposes downstream,” he said.
PMC water supply chief Aniruddha Pawaskar said, “We release water as per the demand of irrigation department on daily basis. We lift water and release the same in canal and have full capacity to do so.”
Another official said that 6.05 TMC of water is to be released as per the agreement. The canal has leakages and is weak. Currently, only five pumps are operational which makes water release a cumbersome task.